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East West Players is an Asian American theatre organization in Los Angeles, founded in 1965. As the nation's first Asian American theatre organization, East West Players today continues to produce works and educational programs that give voice to the Asian Pacific American experience.

East West Players
180x401 EWP 50 stacked.jpg
Celebrating 50 years at East West Players
TypeTheatre group
PurposeAsian American theatre
  • Union Center for the Arts
    120 Judge John Aiso St.
    Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, California 90012
Notable members
Mako (d.), Artistic Director emeritus
Nobu McCarthy (d.) Artistic Director emeritus



Established in 1965 by Mako, Rae Creevey, Beulah Quo, Soon-Tek Oh, James Hong, Pat Li, June Kim, Guy Lee, and Yet Lock as a place where Asian-American actors could perform roles beyond the stereotypical parts they were being limited to in Hollywood. An early statement of purpose read: "To further cultural understanding between the East and West by employing the dual Oriental and American heritages of the East-West Players."[1]

Current mission statement: As the nation's premier Asian American theatre organization, East West Players produces artistic works and educational programs that foster dialogue exploring Asian Pacific experiences.

Current vision statement:

  • Continuing the movement to develop, foster and expand Asian Pacific performance into a major force on the national arts scene in the 21st century
  • National recognition of the organization's productions and programs
  • Increased opportunities for Asian and Pacific Islander artists on stage and in other media
  • Introducing audiences to the diverse Asian Pacific experiences
  • Educational programs and mentorship in the literary, technical and performing arts
  • Financial and organizational sustainability and growth

East West Players has been called “the nation’s pre-eminent Asian American theater troupe” [2] for their award-winning productions blending Eastern and Western movement, costumes, language, and music. EWP has premiered over 100 plays and musicals about the Asian Pacific American experience and has held over 1,000 readings and workshops. Its emphasis is on building bridges between East and West; attendance estimates are 56% Asians and 44% non-Asians.

In 1998, EWP Producing Artistic Director Tim Dang led the company’s move from a 99-seat Equity Waiver "black box” into a new 240-seat venue at an Actors' Equity Association contract level. EWP’s mainstage is the David Henry Hwang Theater, housed within the historic Union Center for the Arts in downtown Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo district, where it serves over 10,000 people each year, including low income audiences provided free and discounted admissions and deaf audiences attending a series of ASL-interpreted shows.

Educational ProgramsEdit

EWP offers a growing array of educational programs training over 200 multicultural artists each year – the Actors Conservatory (performance workshops and an intensive Summer Conservatory); David Henry Hwang Writers Institute; the career program, Alliance of Creative Talent Services (ACTS); and the touring Theatre for Youth (reaching an estimated 50,000 K-8th graders and their families via in-school performances and festivals).


Notable EWP alumni include actors Mako, Nobu McCarthy, Pat Morita, James Hong, Yuki Shimoda, John Lone, Rodney Kageyama,[3] BD Wong, James Saito, Freda Foh Shen, Lauren Tom, Amy Hill, Alec Mapa, Alan Muraoka, Emily Kuroda, Sala Iwamatsu, Chris Tashima, Anthony Begonia, John Cho, Kal Penn, Daniel Dae Kim, Matthew Yang King, Parvesh Cheena, James Kyson-Lee, Masi Oka, Francois Chau, Jeanne Sakata, Rachna Khatau, Greg Watanabe, Dante Basco, and dramatists Wakako Yamauchi, Hiroshi Kashiwagi, David Henry Hwang, Philip Kan Gotanda, Roberta Uno, R.A. Shiomi, Judith Nihei and Soji Kashiwagi. East West Players has also had the opportunity to work with many respected artists and faculty such as actors Dennis Dun, Danny Glover,[4] Bill Macy, Takayo Fischer, Lauren Tom, George Takei, Tsai Chin, and Nancy Kwan, directors, Lisa Peterson and Oskar Eustis, musician Dan Kuramoto and instructors Calvin Remsberg and Fran Bennett.

Over seventy-five percent of all Asian Pacific performers in the acting unions living in Los Angeles have worked at EWP. East West Players has provided training and opportunities to many emerging and professional artists who have gone on to win Tony Awards, Obie Awards, Emmy Awards, LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards, and Academy Awards.

East West Players has collaborated with many organizations though its history, including Center Theatre Group, Robey Theatre Company,[5] Cornerstone Theater Company,[6] Ma-Yi Theatre Company, and Cedar Grove OnStage.

Current seasonEdit

Previous seasonsEdit

2016/17 51st Anniversary Season

2014/16 50th Anniversary Season

2013/14 48th Anniversary Season

2012/13 47th Anniversary Season

2011/12 46th Anniversary Season

2010/11 45th Anniversary Season

2009/10 44th Anniversary Season

2008/09 43rd Anniversary Season


  1. ^ 1968 playbill for "The Medium"
  2. ^ New York Times 12/16/01
  3. ^ Reyes-Velarde, Alejandra (December 13, 2018). "Rodney Kageyama, actor and beloved Little Tokyo icon, dies at 77". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  4. ^ "Danny Glover". TCM Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved on 26 July 2010.
  5. ^ Foley, F. Kathleen. "Theater Review: An Earthen Vessel Cracks Under Fire", page 3 of 3, Los Angeles Times, 15 January 1999. Retrieved on 26 July 2010.
  6. ^ "As Vishnu Dreams - 39th Season". East West Players. Retrieved on 22 July 2010.

External linksEdit